Those who complain about the sound quality of wireless headphones are missing the point. There are obviously better headphone options out there, but it’s the convenience of small wireless headphones that consumers have embraced. The second generation of Beyerdynamic Wireless Xelento think it can deliver both: wireless convenience with audiophile-quality sound, but we have a few concerns.
The most obvious problem with the $1,200 Xelento Wireless earbuds is that you’re paying $1,200 for wireless earbuds that technically aren’t completely wireless. Like some of the first “cordless” options to hit the market (before the debut of truly cable-free options from Earin, Bragi, and possibly Apple)the Xelento Wireless earbuds (the parts that actually sit in your ears) are attached by two short wires to a strap that contains batteries and Bluetooth hardware.
So while they don’t need to be physically connected to a smartphone or other audio source (which is still an option if you opt for the $1,000 Xelento Remote instead, or buy a separate five-pole Pentaconn cable to connect the buds to a hifi system), it doesn’t seem fair to call them truly wireless. The only benefit to this approach is that it means the buds themselves can instead prioritize size, comfort and audio hardware, instead of having to cram all their functionality in such a small space. The neckband also promises a solid 14 hours of playtime on a single charge, although if you’re away from a power source for a while you won’t have a charging case buried in a pocket for recharge them quickly.
Our other concern is that, despite using the company’s Telsa miniaturized audio technology with 11-millimeter drivers in each bud plus gold-plated plugs, silver-plated cables and a total of 10 pairs of interchangeable tips, the Xelento Wireless still depend Bluetooth: a wireless technology that has been more or less used to provide live audio streaming. The neckband includes an integrated digital-to-analog converter with an amplifier of AKM and support for codecs such as LHDC, Qualcomm aptXTM HD, and aptXTM, but these are still compressed codecs, and anyone willing to spend $1,200 on headphones will try to avoid audio compression at all costs.
Although we haven’t tested them in person, there’s no doubt that Beyerdynamic has created a finely tuned and beautifully designed pair of wireless headphones here. But the Xelento Wireless is going to be a tough sell, even to those happy to splurge on their audio gear. The attached Xelento remote control version might actually be the best option here, because they cost $300 less than Sennheiser IE 900 headphones, which offer a premium and stunning set of buds in materials like milled aluminum instead of the 24k gold that Beyerdynamic has put in its latest and greatest.